Sunday, October 18, 2015

Game 5 - An Offensive Outburst

After facing three of the better teams in the Western Conference during their first four games of the season, the Edmonton Oilers were finally thrown a lifeline of sorts on Saturday evening. While the Calgary Flames have owned the Battle of Alberta over the last number years and are coming off a fantastic 2014-15 campaign, they were exactly what the doctor ordered for Connor McDavid and company. 

Much like the Oilers, the Flames have struggled out of the gate and so far looked nothing like the team that surprised the hockey world a season ago. Despite their recent success, Calgary had absolutely no answer for Edmonton’s collection of highly skilled forwards, who had shown little to no chemistry over their first four games. 

While McDavid stole the show with the first multi-goal game and three-point night of his career, it was the play of Taylor Hall and Ryan-Nugent-Hopkins that allowed the Oilers to cruise to 5-2 victory at the Scotiabank Saddledome. For the first time this season, Edmonton had their top two lines clicking on the same night and it was simply too much for Calgary to handle. 

Hall was a thorn in the Flames side from start to finish, using his speed to both his and his linemates advantage while causing havoc in the offensive zone. The 23-year old matched McDavid’s three-point effort with one of his own and scored the eventual game-winner for good measure. Nugent-Hopkins gave his side an early lead midway through the first, zipping home his second of the season past Oilers-killer Jonas Hiller and continued to be a force at both ends of the rink. 

To add insult to injury, Nail Yakupov chipped in with a goal and an assist of his own, meaning the Oilers four first overall picks combined for nine points on the night and scored all five goals. After struggling for much of the season on the power play, Edmonton finally started to show some positive signs on the man advantage and were rewarded for their efforts with a third-period marker off the stick of No. 97. 

David Jones was the only Flame who managed to slip a puck in behind starter Cam Talbot, who had what was by far and away his easiest night in Orange and Blue. While the 28-year old has been stellar to start the year, the former New York Ranger must have felt as though he was transported back to 2014-15. Calgary created very little in the way of quality scoring chances and Edmonton limited them to almost no second chance opportunities, allowing Talbot to register his first win of the season. 

The Oilers will conclude their brief two-game road swing on Sunday evening, as they pay a visit to the Vancouver Canucks. Despite playing on back-to-back nights, chances are Todd McLellan will leave his lineup intact, with the exception of going with Anders Nilsson in between the pipes. The former New York Islanders netminder will be making his second start of the season, after blocking 48 shots in a 4-2 loss to the Dallas Stars in his Oilers debut. 

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